I was reading an article from McKinsey where the authors, Thomas London and Penelope Dash, emphasize on the need for developed economies to adopt digital to reduce the cost of care while ensuring that the quality of the care reaches a level of uniformity.
Healthcare spend as a percentage of GDP continues to rise for all developed countries. At the current rate the authors state that US would be spending 35 % of its GDP on healthcare. But at the same time France would end up spending almost a fourth of its GDP on healthcare by 2050. But despite the spend US continues to have 14 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (MMR). Now if we compare that with France which has a MMR of 9. Italy spends 9.2 % of its GDP on healthcare and has an MMR of 4. So clearly healthcare costs are a concern for many of these countries and the quality of healthcare continues to vary depending on the country.
The McKinsey authors feel that adopting digital, specially in areas like Information Management, data gathering, modernizing the processes and infrastructure for storing data would reap rewards. This could be followed up by next steps on creating mechanisms for data sharing between the care providers and leveraging predictive analytics to ensure that clinical insights are available to increase the quality of care. This obviously has to be supported by change in the mindsets of healthcare systems and leaders and enabled by the legal and political system.
Coming back to India which spends about 4.7% of its GDP on health and has an MMR of 174, the focus is more on access. I believe that the recent strides that the country has made in Digital and ensuring that technology enables care at the primary and preventive care level is the key. My good friend and contributor at Healthcare India, Dr Sumeet Kad has often written about the need for a Public-Private Partnership in this area. New digital areas like Internet of Things or IoT would play a vital role in this arena. I had discussed some of these aspects in a post on the HCIT blog last month. Co-operation between the government, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and digital health startups will create an exciting new model, one that would ensure access to care for 1.3 billion people.
Also the entry of organizations like Reliance into the digital space with Reliance Jio into the data space, providing data at lower rates would create the right environment for many consumers to take to digital. Areas like Digital Commerce, Content Management, App development and analytics will get a boost with healthcare being a beneficiary along with traditional consumer sectors.
In conclusion the developed world may look at digital as an option but for us in India it is the only way.